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I'm trying to track down a fantasy book that I read as a teenager (early 00s) and never really finished.

What I can remember is that the main character belonged to the aristocratic or upper class of society. Skin whiteness was very important as the book made a big deal of him putting a protective cream on his skin whenever he went outside to keep it white. There was definitely some seafaring involved when he went to live in a new place. I think he was also in a relationship with another man.

It was definitely not set on earth. Although there was no mention of the characters being "human" as the description of them was very much human-like. I don't remember magic/monsters or other different humanoid species (elves/dwarves/halflings) being a significant part of it, although that's not to say that there was and I've just forgotten.

The society resembled early modern europe in terms of technology, there was nothing particular industrialised but it seemed more modern than the middle ages.

Appreciate it's a bit of a rough description, does anyone know what this is?

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    Back in the days, aristocracy used makeup to whiten their skin in order not to look like the "dumb farmers" whose skin was sunburnt from the works in the fields. Dunno if that is the same reason in you story, but just thought I might as well drop the info here to help in the research. They often used white lead to do so. Who knows, the white lead could be a... lead :) – Jenayah Jul 2 '18 at 11:23
  • The Braxana in C.S. Friedman's In Conquest Born consider their pale skin an indicator of their superiority over other Braxin tribes and use cosmetics to reinforce it. The rest of your description (same-sex relationship, seafaring, early modern technology) do not fit, so I don't think it's what you're looking for, but figured it was worth a mention. – gowenfawr Jul 2 '18 at 16:02
  • @user277606 In the real world, many first world people use sunblock in order to avoid, sunburn, tanning, premature skin aging, and skin cancer, despite the fact that tan skin has been considered socially desirable as a sign of leisure for a few generations. So possibly the people in that fictional society could be heath conscious instead of racists. – M. A. Golding Jul 2 '18 at 16:38

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